Published on 06/04/07

Drought eases in some areas, intensifies in others

By David Emory Stooksbury
University of Georgia

Athens, Ga. –- Beneficial rains from the remains of tropical storm Barry brought much needed rain to south-central, southeast, and east-central Georgia over the weekend. Much of the remainder of the state had little to no rainfall.

With the wide difference in rainfall, drought conditions improved in parts of the state while worsening in others. In the long run, there is a good chance that the recent rains may be just a blip in the continuing drought.

The long-term outlook is for the drought to continue to intensify. Little if any widespread, sustained relief from the drought is anticipated.

Of Georgia's 159 counties, 95 are classified as being in extreme drought, 49 in severe drought, 12 in moderate drought and three in mild drought.

Worse in some areas

Across south Georgia, extreme drought conditions have expanded into Baker, Bibb, Calhoun, Chattahoochee, Clay, Crawford, Crisp, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Macon, Marion, Miller, Muscogee, Peach, Quitman, Randolph, Stewart, Schley, Sumpter, Taylor, Terrell, Webster and Wilcox counties.

In north Georgia, extreme drought conditions have expanded into Banks, Barrow, Butts, Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Harris, Henry, Jackson, Jasper, Lamar, Lumpkin, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Pike, Putnam, Rabun, Rockdale, Spalding, Talbot, Upson, Walton and White counties.

Severe drought has expanded into Elbert and Hart counties and remain in Clarke, Franklin, Greene, Madison, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Stephens, Taliaferro and Wilkes counties.

Severe drought conditions remain, too, in Baldwin, Dodge, Glascock, Hancock, Houston, Jones, Pulaski, Twiggs and Warren counties.

Better in some areas

With the soaking rains of Barry, drought conditions improved from extreme to severe in the south Georgia counties of Appling, Bacon, Berrien, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Cook, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jefferson, Jeff Davis, Lamar, Liberty, Long, Lowndes, Montgomery, McIntosh, Pierce, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Ware Wheeler and Wayne.

Drought conditions improved from severe to moderate in Beckley, Emanuel, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, McDuffie, Screven, Treutlen, Washington and Wilkinson counties. Lincoln County remains in moderate drought.

In the central Savannah River valley, drought conditions improved from moderate to mild in Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties.

Extreme drought conditions remain in the rest of the state, including northwest, west-central, southwest and most of south-central Georgia.

"Extreme" drought conditions are defined as those expected once in 50 years, based on many indicators. "Severe" conditions are those expected once in 20 years. "Moderate" are those expected once in 10 years.

Weekend rains will be beneficial for pastures and hay. In southwest Georgia where much of the state's row crops are grown, rains were generally too light to have any benefit.

Outside the regions receiving bountiful weekend rains, stream flows remain at record to near-record low levels. Soil moisture also remains at very low levels.

Get updated drought information at The state drought Web site includes information on how to deal with the drought.

Updated weather information is at This University of Georgia network has 71 automated weather stations statewide.

(David Stooksbury is the state climatologist and a professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.